ENGLEWOOD — Tyler Kreissler struck out seven Thursday, but Lemon Bay failed to execute the finer things in a 3-2 loss to Southeast.
The Manta Rays (3-4) scored in the sixth and seventh innings, but stranded the tying run at third to fall by one.
Trailing 3-1 entering the bottom of the seventh, Lemon Bay center fielder John Gossett ripped a single off the glove of the third baseman to start the inning. After a fielder’s choice and a groundout, Lemon Bay found themselves down to their final out. John Moore then bounced a ball towards shortstop which looked like it could end the game. However, the ball took a high hop off the dirt and caromed over the shortstop and into center field, scoring a run to make it 3-2. Moore advanced to second on the throw to the plate and then went to third on a wild pitch. With the tying run 90 feet away, Tyler Intihar flew out to center to end the game.
“The effort was there in the last inning, we just got to find a way to get that going earlier in the ballgame,” Lemon Bay head coach Dan Flaherty said. “We just didn’t get that timely hit when we needed it.”
Manta Rays shortstop Sebastian Daubner reached base all three times that he came to the plate, but the rest of the Manta Rays couldn’t solve Seminoles (4-3) starter Kayden Steffen.
Steffen turned in a complete game win, allowing just two runs on five hits over seven innings. The right-hander used fastball movement from a short-arm delivery to keep the Manta Rays off-balance.
“I just think we’re still trying to find that timing a little bit,” said Flaherty. “I think that’s what it comes down to, our timing and approach. We’re still trying to find that. We have a lot of young guys who have never played varsity baseball before. There’s a little bit of a learning curve and we’re up against that right now.”
Kreissler fanned seven over 4.2 innings, allowing just one earned run on five hits. Tim Caldwell and Intihar combined to pitch the final 2.1 frames.
“Exceptional,” Flaherty said of Kreissler’s performance. “He threw the ball well. I thought we pitched well enough to win tonight. I thought we played defense well enough to win. The offensive side of the ball is kind of letting us down right now.”
In a game that came down to one run, Lemon Bay’s minor mistakes surmounted their spirited effort and proved to be the deciding factor. In the third and fourth innings, the Manta Rays got the leadoff batter on base with a walk. In both innings, the base runner was immediately picked off by Steffen. When the Seminoles scored in the first, catcher Eric LePage committed two errors. In a 2-0 game in the sixth, Lemon Bay’s defense surrendered a run when a first-and-third play wasn’t executed properly. That run proved to be the difference.
“The little things always play a role,” said Flaherty. “We talk about that all the time. Like you saw tonight, a lot of little things end up being a big thing. That was the difference in the game tonight.”
The Manta Rays will try and even their record Friday night when they visit Lake Placid (1-4).
SOUTHEAST 3, LEMON BAY 2
Southeast 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 – 3 6 1
Lemon Bay 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 – 2 5 2
WP – Steffen, LP – Kreissler
Fred D’Ariano (SE): 1-2, 2 BB, 2 R; Daubner (LB): 2-2, 3B, BB, R